that jeff mighta fallen for a guy who won’t wear a condom, and other problems

Jeff says of the guy he hooked up with last night that the foreplay was amazing but that everything went downhill when he (Jeff) insisted on using protection, which this dude he met at Blackbird was apparently not a fan of, and so they go back and forth about it, back and forth back and forth almost to the point of outright arguing about it, ridiculous, two naked strangers bickering in the dark, until finally the guy agrees to put the fucking condom on (“It’s fine, let’s just…it’s fine…”) and then they pick up where they left off, kissing and whatnot, excitement mutual and no grudge between them – until, that is, this guy from Blackbird tears the wrapper and takes out the condom and (as’ll happen to the best of us) his erection seems to smell it or something and then just dips. Gone. So now there’s this quiet moment of defeat between them where they just lay on their backs and sigh, each one secretly angry but tryna act calm and neither quite able to look at the other just yet.

Wasted all that time arguing…

But prior to all this they’d apparently gotten along well enough that, with sex off the table, the Blackbird guy feels comfortable enough to spend the night, and they’re intimate throughout, and even though Jeff, in retrospect, was only thinking of this as a one-time thing he’s kinda surprised by how comfortable he was to let the Blackbird dude sleep over (especially since he had to be here at the coffee shop before 6 a.m., and he says that his pre-dawn morning routine is a miserable solitary thing that no other person should see). And so now, surprise surprise, he’s tryna set something up again with the Blackbird guy so that they can “finish what [they] started.”

SantiagoRafael Coronel

            Jeff is a barista I see every day and he just finished his shift, it’s a little after 11 a.m., so he comes and sits with me over coffee. I just got here and it’s my first cup of the day and he doesn’t know how many he’s had.

Since we’re apparently talking about sex, I ask if he’s on any dating apps and he says yeah. Names two.

I tell him about the four platforms I’m hopping across and about my date with the med student. It’s the day after Christmas and I’m miserably hungover and he smiles when I tell him this, says with a giggling grimace that he could smell the booze when he hugged me but didn’t wanna say anything.

As’ll sometimes happen in the cloud of a hangover, I get this moment of lucidity after the first couple sips of espresso and tell him that I think I’m conducting myself in the dating space as though I’m looking to hire a woman rather than love one. Arguing myself into liking people only because I know they like me and thinking, Jeez, wouldn’t that be convenient.

            “If I could put out a classified – Full Time Romantic Interest Wanted, No Benefits, Must Like Movies – and just conduct a series of interviews, then appoint someone to the position, I would totally do that. And not cuz I’m looking for something cold, it’s not that I’m looking for somebody to sit quietly next to me and show no affection; it’s just that the need for a partner is so pathetically urgent that I feel like I don’t have any time to fuck around with like the cautious flirting, and the mild first-date conversations, and these fucking texts that feel like a rhetorical chess game at two in the morning.”

            Jeff squints at me and nods while I talk and talk. My voice is raspy and eyes are red and apparently I smell like wine.

He’s patient.

After a while I finish gabbing and he glances out the window with another long sip as though considering all that I’ve said and then he tells me that, “when you put it in those words, about trying to hire someone rather than just, like, discover them…then yeah. I feel like I’m probably doing the same thing.”

            Which I’m sorry to hear, but also pretty glad I’m not alone.

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